Autograph is delighted to share photographs from Dexter McLean's series Tower Avenue, awarded the prestigious Hood Medal in 2021 by the Royal Photographic Society. The Medal was first instituted in 1933 in recognition of a body of photographic work produced to promote or raise awareness of an aspect of public benefit or service.
In Tower Avenue, McLean revisits the community around Olympic Gardens, Jamaica where he spent his childhood. Inspired by a sense of togetherness and the importance of familial networks, this ongoing project features black and white photographic portraits of an intergenerational constituency of individuals living in the local area. His long-term ambition is to create a collective portrait documenting the disabled community in Jamaica, drawing on his own experience of living with cerebral palsy, to challenge historical representations of black and disabled communities.
Tower Avenue will be on display at Orleans House Gallery from March 2022, in the artist's first solo exhibition. McLean is also a participant of our Transforming Leadership project in collaboration with Shape Arts, and you can see his newly-commissioned work on display at Autograph’s gallery in Care | Contagion | Community – Self & Other.
"Rocko is a disabled self-employed craftsman. He was forced to take matters into his own hands as there aren't allowances present in Jamaica to assist the disabled community. During the shoot he decided to wear a t-shirt that has a picture of the current prime minister of Jamaica (Andrew Holness) to express his passion for politics."
— Dexter McLean
"Lance is considered to be one of the 'Rude Boys' in the community which means he doesn't have a stable job and would frequently hang around by the roadside. He stated, 'I don't think Tower Avenue has enough job opportunities and if given the chance I would travel overseas to enjoy the benefits that the west countries have to offer.'"
— Dexter McLean
Dexter McLean (born 1993, Kingston, Jamaica) moved to the United Kingdom when he was nine. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, McLean’s documentary and portrait photography is concerned with addressing fundamental flaws in the representations of the disabled community in mainstream media and elsewhere.
McLean was the first person in his family to attend university, graduating with a Masters degree in Photography from Middlesex University in 2020. McLean is currently part of the Shape Arts Transforming Leadership Programme in partnership with Autograph. He lives and works in London.
You can follow the artist on Instagram and see more work on his website.
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